Giving Life a Second Chance
Through Organ & Tissue Donation

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a donor?

You can designate to donate by indicating your decision on your driver's license or state ID card through your state's Department of Motor Vehicles registry HERE. This is considered legal consent for organ and tissue donation. Remember to share your donation with your loved ones.

Does it cost anything to donate organ and tissues?

No. Donation costs nothing to the donor's family or estate.

How do I discuss organ and tissue donation with my family?

Many people are uncomfortable talking about death. Explain to your loved ones how your decision to donate at the time of your death will offer hope to others whose lives can be saved or enhanced through transplantation. Gift of Life can supply materials to help explain organ and tissue donation and why it's important. Click HERE to order materials.

Is there an age limit for donating organs?

No set age limit exists for organ donation. At the time of death, the potential donor's organs are evaluated to determine their suitability for donation. Therefore, people of any age wishing to become organ and tissue donors should indicate their decision to be an organ and tissue donor on their driver's license and inform their family that they wish to donate.

Can I sell my organs?

The buying and selling of organs and tissues is illegal, as part of The National Organ Transplant Act (Public Law 98-507).

Does my religion approve of donation?

All of the major religions in this country approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it a gift - an act of charity. If you have questions, contact your religious advisor.

Can I be an organ and tissue donor and also donate my whole body to medical science?

No. You can either donate organs and tissues OR donate your body to medical science. If you are a resident within the Gift of Life service region of the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware and you wish to donate your entire body, you should contact the Humanity Gifts Registry at 215-922-4440.

What organs and tissues can I donate?

Life-saving organs for transplant include the heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissues, such as bones, ligaments and tendons, are needed for important surgical procedures to repair injured or diseased joints and bones. Corneas, heart valves and skin may also be donated.

Who can become a donor?

You should always consider yourself a potential organ and tissue donor. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissues can be donated.

Can I donate organs to a friend or loved one awaiting a transplant?

National organ allocation guidelines allow families of donors to designate recipients, usually family members or friends. Directed or designated donation, as it is commonly called, is an option. However, successful designated donations are so rare that the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization that oversees transplants in the United States does not track them. Living donation is also an option. If you are interested in donating an organ to a friend or loved one awaiting a transplant, you can read more about living donation HERE on our website.

How are recipients matched to donors?

Individuals waiting for transplants are listed by the transplant center in their area. Their name then goes into a national computerized waiting list of potential transplants patients in the United States maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS manages the national list to aid in matching donor organs with patients on the national waiting list and to coordinate efforts with transplant centers. When donor organs become available, the organ procurement organization (OPO) such as Gift of Life provides UNOS with information about the medical characteristics of the donor and specific organs, including medical compatibility between the donor and potential recipient(s) on such characteristics as blood type, weight, and age; as well as the recipients' urgency of need; and length of time on waiting list. Waiting list patients in the OPO's local region are given the opportunity for the organs first. If no one is a match there, the organs are then offered to the region, and then nationally if necessary.

What are the steps involved in organ and tissue donation?

The entire donation process is explained HERE on our website, from the initial discussion with the family to allocation of the organs to the recipients.

What medical conditions exclude a person from donating organs?

HIV and actively spreading cancer normally exclude people from donating organs. Otherwise, the organs are evaluated at the time of death. We encourage everyone to designate their decision to be a donor on their license or state I.D. and share their decision with their family.

Who is responsible for the cost of the transplant surgery?

Most transplants are covered by individual health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid programs. Patients should contact their physicians or health insurance company for more information.

Why are there so many people on the transplant waiting list?

As advances in medicine have grown, transplants have become more successful and more people have been added to the national waiting list. At the same time, the numbers of donors has not grown as quickly as the number of people who are in need of organs and tissue. Each day, 22 people in the United States die while waiting for organ transplants. Every 10 minutes, another person's name is added to the list of thousands who have been waiting life-saving organ transplants. Right now, more than 118,000 patients are waiting for a transplant in the United States. Thousands more await life enhancing tissue transplants.

Why should minorities be particularly concerned about donation?

A growing number of minorities are awaiting transplants in both this region, and throughout the country. Certain diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, liver and pancreas are prevalent in minority communities. Many of these diseases can be treated through transplantation.

Will donation change the appearance of my body?

No. Donation neither disfigures the body nor interferes with funeral arrangements.

Will my decision to become an organ and tissue donor affect the quality of my medical care?

No. Organ and tissue recovery takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been exhausted and death has been declared. The doctors working to save your life are entirely separate from the medical team involved in recovering organs and tissues.

Find Related Info
Organ Donors, Donor Registry, Transplant Waiting List, Tissue Donation, Living Donor

iconRegister to Be a Donor

It’s easy to add the donor designation to your driver's license or state I.D. card. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Sign up today!

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Giving Life a Second Chance

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Since 1974, Gift of Life Donor Program has helped hundreds of thousands of patients through organ and tissue donation.

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Share Your Story

Inspire. Advocate. Share your story...

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Gift of Life works tirelessly to rewrite the stories for the more than 5,600 people in our region waiting for their second chance at life. The gift of organ and tissue donation truly can change someone's life and rewrite their story. How has the Gift of Life rewritten your story? Share with us.


Register for the 2017 Dash

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The 22nd Annual Donor Dash is designed to help promote organ and tissue donation and highlight the success of transplantation.

April 2, 2017.

Learn more about the event and register today!

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